The radical challenge of building a dorm for the deaf

Kylie Lacey's picture
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The first thing you notice when walking into Gallaudet University’s newest residence hall is how utterly familiar it looks. With its modern concrete floors, wooden accents and expansive set of glass windows, the dormitory is not familiar in the sense of boring—actually the space is quite lovely even despite the fact that it is student housing. You see, Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. is home to nearly 2,000 students who are deaf or hearing impaired, and its recently built dorm was designed with them specifically in mind.

Obvious design concessions are nowhere to be found; rather, the Living and Learning Residence Hall 6 was built with a series of subtle and thoughtful design choices that use the principles of DeafSpace. Designed by New York City-based LTL Architects, the 60,000-square-foot building is the first to fully employ architectural principles that cater to the communication and spatial needs of the hearing impaired.

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